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Over the last 245 years, the United States Motto has changed from “E Pluribus Unum,” to “Profit Before People.”
“America is not a country, it’s a business.” This line from a Brad Pitt movie is the absolute truth. Unfortunately, profits for large corporations and the super-rich take precedence over the welfare and security of the majority of the American people. Our government is broken, and I’m not confident it can be repaired in its present form.
It is a fact that capitalism is responsible for the United States becoming the “richest country in the world.” However, in 1981 it began to fail the majority. Ronald Reagan’s failed economic policy of “trickle-down economics” accomplished two things. First, it allowed the wealthy and their largest corporations to experience outrageous profits while workers’ wages and benefits became stagnant. Second, Reagan attempted to destroy labor unions, and his war on the working class had begun.
Today we can look back at unbridled capitalism and understand that it is responsible for our growing income inequality. One-half of all Americans continue to live in the low-income category or below the poverty line. While large corporations experience profits measured in hundreds of percentage points, far too many of our nation’s people are forced to work two or even three jobs to provide for their families. Meanwhile, Republicans refuse to raise the federal minimum wage in support of the greed of their super-rich supporters.
Some economists believe that pure capitalism is in decline. Younger Americans are less concerned with possessions than their parents and grandparents. Another sign which may prove their assessment valid is the aftermath of the pandemic. Thousands of men and women decided not to return to their former places of employment. A combination of poor working conditions, inadequate pay, and limited or non-existent benefits inspired them to change their professions or return to trade schools, colleges, and universities.
Nothing is more accurate than the adage, “if you are doing something you love, you never work a day in your life.” I can personally attest to this. I worked far too many jobs in my life. One or two I loved, and a couple of them I enjoyed for a limited time. Most of what I did was simply necessary.
Senator Bernie Sanders is 100 percent correct. Only a system of Democratic Socialism can save America. The working class must have the same rights as the wealthy, including free healthcare, an opportunity for advancement, and sharing in the profits of the businesses that employ them. When consumers cannot purchase goods produced by our corporations and small businesses, a recession is predictable, and depression is possible.
Inflation is a problem today. However, I cannot find a reasonable explanation why those who supply our necessities feel it equitable to raise prices. Their profits have not diminished. At the height of the pandemic, while millions of Americans were struggling to survive, corporate America continued to be successful beyond their expectations.
I believe that this is a repeat of 1971 and is nothing less than “price gouging.” It began during the Covid-19 crisis. Then, the price of items such as disinfectants and toilet paper increased dramatically. In 1971, a baseless claim that a gas shortage resulted in long lines at the pump and outrageous prices. The same happened with coffee and sugar. Those prices nearly doubled.
Corporate greed will eventually bring an end to capitalism. Outrageous salaries for a small number at the “top of the food chain,” combined with a refusal to increase wages for the majority, are standard practices and not sustainable in a nation whose average employee has not experienced a substantial increase in their income for decades.
Op-ed by James Turnage
NPR: Capitalism: What Is It? Written by Rund Abdelfatah, Ramtin Arablouei, and more
Guardian: The end of capitalism has begun; by Paul Mason
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Naoki Nakashima’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of The U.S. National Archives’ Picryl Page – Public Domain License
Second Inset Image Courtesy of David Prasad’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License